The ability to maintain a secure digital environment from which we can manage our affairs is something we rely on the mobile software makers – Apple on iOS, Google with Android – to pursue with unflappable efficiency. But human error is something these companies can only ever partially make provisions for, and as such, there are occasions when security flaws are realized. iOS has been in the news lately for a series of such mishaps, but this time it’s Android’s turn, and those on the Galaxy Note II may be alarmed by the news that on Android 4.1.2, the home screen can be viewed (albeit for a split second), even if the device is locked with a passcode.
By tapping on the "Emergency Call" icon, then pressing the ICE button followed by the home key for a few seconds, anybody could catch a brief glimpse of your home screen apps. Perhaps this isn’t a massive problem (it’s certainly not as big as the iOS passcode exploit on iOS 6.1), but if, for example, you happen to have a direct dial widget on your immediate home screen, somebody could theoretically use your device to make a call.
The series of prerequisites required to render this security hole to be a threat on a grand scale means there’s no reason to really panic at this point. One would have to lose or misplace their Note II, have somebody find it with the information aforementioned to catch a flash of the home screen, and to do any realistic damage, would need to find a direct dial widget somewhere on that home screen.
With that said, it’s still a security risk, and Samsung has a duty to its users to reassure them that a fix is on the way. The person who discovered it – an Android enthusiast by the name of Terence Eden – reported it five days ago, but Samsung has yet to issue any kind of response to the problem.
Provided you don’t leave your smartphone lying around, you’ll be okay, and Galaxy Note II users should not be alarmed. However, a threat to security should not be left dormant under any circumstance, and hopefully, the Korean company will step up and deal with it in the coming days.